A newly transparent Federal Reserve after last month's document dump? Don't believe the hype. Bloomberg examines what the Fed still doesn't want you to know, even in violation of Dodd-Frank requirements for disclosure.
The Federal Reserve withheld details on individual securities pledged as collateral by recipients of $885 billion in central bank loans, denying taxpayers a measure of the risks they faced from its emergency aid.
The central bank released data on 21,000 transactions from $3.3 trillion in emergency lending to stem the financial crisis. July’s Dodd-Frank law required the Fed to disclose the names of borrowers, the size and interest rates of loans, and “information identifying the types and amounts of collateral pledged or assets transferred.”
For three of the Fed’s six emergency facilities, the central bank released information on groups of collateral it accepted by asset type and rating, without specifying individual securities. Among them was the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, created in March 2008 to provide loans to brokers as Bear Stearns Cos. collapsed.
- “This is a half-step,” said former Atlanta Fed research director Robert Eisenbeis, chief monetary economist at Cumberland Advisors Inc. in Sarasota, Florida. “If you were going to audit the facilities, then would this enable you to do an audit?
- The answer is ‘No,’ you would have to go in and look at the individual amounts of collateral and how it was broken down to do that. And that is the spirit of what the requirements were in Dodd-Frank.”
The loans extended to primary dealers under the PDCF by the New York Fed were recourse loans, meaning the potential liability of borrowers who defaulted was greater than the value of the collateral pledged, according to the Fed. Primary dealers are the firms authorized to deal in government securities directly with the Fed. At its peak, borrowing under the facility came to about $156 billion.
Over the life of the PDCF, $1.5 trillion of collateral with “ratings unavailable” was pledged, according to the Fed data. That’s larger than the $1.39 trillion of municipal debt pledged. Corporate debt posted totaled $2.35 trillion.
A total of $8.95 trillion was lent over the life of the PDCF, backed by $9.67 trillion in collateral.
The Fed authorized its New York branch to establish the PDCF on March 16, 2008, the same day it made commitments to convince JPMorgan Chase & Co. to buy troubled dealer Bear Stearns. A run on New York-based Bear Stearns was seen as threatening the stability of global markets, and the PDCF for the first time allowed dealers to borrow on a collateralized basis from the New York Fed.
No wonder the Fed fears Ron Paul...
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